How I Mix it Up by Bike!

Jennifer competing in the Wildflower Triathalon (placing 4th). Image: Aaron Hersh Triathlete Magazine.

What’s your bike style?  Are you a bike commuter? A weekend warrior? A beach cruiser? A cyclist or triathlete?  If you’re like me, then the answer can be a bit of “all of the above” - depending on the day.  As women, we’re used to wearing many hats.  And to me, whether that’s a swim cap or a bike helmet, an advocate or an athlete, it’s all simply a different extension of me and what I do.  

Just because I put on a (likely brightly colored) cycling kit and head out into the Santa Monica Mountains during my week’s training regimen doesn’t mean that I also don’t enjoy rolling down to a coffee shop in cut off jean shorts or cruising along the bike path with my friends on occasion.  No matter your style or purpose on a bike, we all share one important thing in common: riding around on two wheels (unless, of course, you’re a skilled unicyclist, in which case, my hat’s off to you...).  

I’ve found that beyond the simple love of bikes and desire for safe roads and places to ride, there are a few principles that we can all benefit from that will make our time on a bike more worthwhile, enjoyable and safe.  These include: 

Mix it up. Variation is important, both to keep things interesting and to keep you on the path toward reaching your fitness goals. The body is very efficient and becomes adept at doing the same thing - to the extent that you'll burn less calories and see less fitness results if you do the exact same thing every time you go out for a ride. Try a different route, add hills, go longer, go shorter and incorporate speed. These are just a few variations that can benefit all of us, whether exploring new sights or getting in a quality workout.  

Dress accordingly. Riding in style is always more fun - especially when that means having the right equipment for the weather, conditions and type of riding you're doing. Living in SoCal, we'll soon be encountering "June Gloom;” nothing ruins a perfectly great bike ride like not having warm enough clothing during the late afternoon onslaught of fog and cooler temperatures. I like keeping arm warmers or a thin cycling jacket tucked in my back pocket at all times just in case. If riding long distances on a road bike, it's worth the extra money to buy a quality chamois. Also, don’t forget protective eyewear, which keeps your eyes safe from flying debris in addition to harmful UV rays.  

Jennifer out riding with her sister Alison.

Be respectful. If you’re out on the bike path or out on the roads, obey traffic laws, be aware and signal before turning, stopping or making sudden moves.  If you’re commuting with purpose or simply enjoying the view, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and give those around you a ‘heads up’ if you’re going to change course.  Motorists, other cyclists and pedestrians alike will appreciate your efforts.

Treat yourself and your bike. I may be an athlete, but I like to get my nails done, get dressed up, take preventative measures to protect my skin from the sun, and do things that make me feel good about myself.  The same should go for your bike.  Take care of it.  Keep it out of the weather.  Take it in to a bike shop for a tune up once in a while, lube the chain and make sure the tires have the appropriate air pressure.  When things start creaking, fix the problem before you’re left stranded and wondering what went wrong. This will make you and anyone you would potentially have to call for a rescue much happier in the long run. :) 

Here's a list of some of my favorite go to products and places that help me stay in top form:

Endurance Sunscreen - This is by far my favorite sunblock.  SPF 45, moisturizing, has zinc for maximum protection, and smells great. They also make a chamois creme and muscle recovery lotion that works wonders.

JR Watkins Hands and Body Lotion - With spending as much time as I do in the pool and outside in general, I like doing everything I can to treat my skin.

Rudy Project Sunglasses - Wearing eyewear while riding is actually quite important to protect your eyes from flying objects thrown up by other bikes, cars or in the wind (in addition to protecting against harmful UV rays)... For casual wear, I'm loving the Rudy Project Skymajor glasses at the moment.

I'm still looking for that perfect kit! Stay tuned as I think I've almost found it!

Triathalon Lab of Santa Monica is where I keep my road bike in shape and find great products.

Elegant Nails - is where I get my nails done. It's off the beaten path on Wilshire in Santa Monica.

G-Star Raw are my favorite jeans of the moment, long enough for my long legs, happily I inherited a pair from my sister's closet!

Specialized S-Works Shiv with di2 shifting is my current roadbike.

I'm currently in the market for just the right casual bike (yes there's a difference) and liking what I'm seeing at the Linus Bike showroom on Abbot Kinney!

The bike path around the Santa Monica Pier is a current favorite casual place to ride in Santa Monica with friends. Santa Monica has recently repainted the path, which is awesome.  Montana Ave also has a nice bike lane (and great stores and coffee shops (Primo Passo Coffee Co. on Montana is amazing and quite bike friendly).

Add some friends.  Having company for a workout or a cruise along the bike path is always fun.  Sometimes, when I’m riding hard, I like having teammates around to keep me motivated, even if we head off at some point to do our own workouts.  Other times, I like including friends on my easy day rides for the company and good talk time.  It doesn’t always have to be a race or a competition.  But easy, light days are meant to be just that - easy.  Thus, no need to race or worry about pacing.  That can be saved for tomorrow (and race day), when it counts. 

Don’t forget to smile.  Riding a bike is fun.  I know you’re in a hurry to get to the office or tired of fighting a head wind, but the ability to be out pedaling around is a simple pleasure we should never take for granted.

Until next time, I look forward to seeing you out on the roads! :)